Konjac Fat Blaster – Scam

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Posted: 28 December 2011

There is simply no proof that this product has any efficacy at all.

A consumer laid a complaint with the UK ASA against the claims for this product. The complaint was upheld.

ASA Adjudication on Wellform Ltd 
Wellform Ltd, Box 134, Jersey, JE4 9QY
Date:  21 December 2011 

Ad

A leaflet, sent in early September 2011 as part of a direct mailing, was headed "A Revolutionary Slimming Treatment from the Orient Konjac Fat Blaster". Further text stated "RESULTS 100% GUARANTEED The New Super-Fast Easy Way To Lose All Your Ugly Fat & Cellulite And Keep It Off For Good! … You Lose Up To 2 Pounds a Day and Over 14 Pounds (at worst!) in Just 30 Days". The leaflet made a range of claims with regard to the amount of weight loss that could be achieved by using the product, the areas of the body where weight loss could be achieved, and the way in which the product acted to cause weight loss. The leaflet also made other efficacy claims for the product, including that it could "RAPIDLY SPEED METABOLISM", "RAPIDLY REDUCE CHOLESTEROL" and that "By normalizing blood sugar it also helps to prevent the onset of diabetes and hypoglycaemia".

Above an order form, text stated "FREE With All Orders Over £30 Placed Today Milk Thistle: Stop Headaches, Bad Breath, Lethargy & Many Other Health Concerns Associated with Rapid Weight Loss".


Issue

The complainant challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated:

1. "You Lose Up To 2 Pounds a Day and Over 14 Pounds (at worst!) in Just 30 Days" and "With Konjac Fat Blaster you are guaranteed to lose up to 2 pounds per day (minimum)";

2. "Tighten loose skin and muscle", "Tone up your thighs, legs, arms and even love handles", and "RAPIDLY STRENGTHEN MUSCLE";

3. ".. With Permanent Visible Results", "Keep It Off For Good!" and "Spectacular Permanent Results".

4. The complainant also challenged whether the claims "100% Natural & No Side Effects" and "KJB … can be taken by anyone wishing to lose fat and weight. It is a wholly natural extract which does not have any side effects and can be taken with other vitamins and medications" were irresponsible and could be substantiated, because they understood that such products containing konjac glucomannan had potentially serious side effects.

The ASA challenged whether:

5. all other efficacy claims for the product, including "RAPIDLY REMOVE CELLULITE", "RAPIDLY SPEED METABOLISM", "RAPIDLY ELIMINATE STRETCH MARKS", "RAPIDLY REDUCE CHOLESTEROL", "RAPIDLY ELIMINATE TOXINS" and "RAPIDLY RESTORE YOUR HEALTH" were misleading and could be substantiated;

6. the ad breached the Code, because the claims such as "100% SUCCESS FOR BOTH WOMEN & MEN … Even big eaters will see their fat melt away without giving it a second thought" implied that consumers could not fail and could eat as much as they liked and still lose weight;

7. the ad breached the Code, because it claimed that people could lose precise amounts of weight within a stated period;

8. the ad breached the Code, because the claims such as "Lose Inches From Your: Arms -1" Waist -6" Stomach -10" Hips -8" Bottom -4" Thighs -4" Legs -3" " implied that consumers could lose weight from specific parts of the body;

9. the ad breached the Code, because the claim "Marianne had a taste for those sweet treats! With Konjac Fat Blaster she lost an incredible 27 pounds in 18 days without dieting!" was not compatible with good medical and nutritional practice;

10. the claim "RAPIDLY SPEED METABOLISM" was an implied medicinal claim, and therefore required marketing authorisation from the MHRA;

11. the references to serious medical conditions, including diabetes and high cholesterol, could discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought; and

12. the advertiser's milk thistle product had been granted a Traditional Herb Registration and therefore whether any efficacy claims should be made for that product.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1.10
1.3
1.7
12.1
12.10
12.2
12.9
13.1
13.10
13.4
13.8
13.9
3.1
3.3
3.7


Response

Wellform did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.


Assessment

Upheld

The ASA was concerned by Wellform's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded Wellform of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.

1., 2., 3. & 5. Upheld

We noted Wellform did not provide any evidence to substantiate the claims that the product could have any of the effects claimed in the ad. We therefore considered that the claims had not been substantiated and concluded that the ad was misleading.

On these points, the ad breached CAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products), 13.1 and 13.4 (Weight control and slimming).

4. Upheld

We noted Wellform had not provided any evidence to substantiate the claims that the product could be taken by anyone and that it had no side effects. Because we had not seen evidence that the product could be taken by anyone and that it had no side effects, we considered that the claims were misleading and irresponsible. We concluded the ad breached the Code.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising), 3.1, 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation), 12.9 and 12.10 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

6., 7., 8. & 9. Upheld

We considered that the claims "100% SUCCESS FOR BOTH WOMEN & MEN … Even big eaters will see their fat melt away without giving it a second thought" and "Marianne had a taste for those sweet treats! With Konjac Fat Blaster she lost an incredible 27 pounds in 18 days without dieting!" implied that people could eat as much as they liked and still lose weight, which was a breach of CAP Code rule 13.8. We also considered that the latter claim was not compatible with good medical and nutritional practice, because it implied that consumers could lose 1.5lbs a day when, for those who were normally overweight, a rate of weight loss greater than 2lbs a week was considered unlikely to be compatible with good medical and nutritional practice. We concluded the latter claim also breached CAP Code rule 13.10.

We also considered that claims such as "You Lose Up To 2 Pounds a Day and Over 14 Pounds (at worst!) in Just 30 Days" and "Lose Inches From Your: Arms -1" Waist -6" Stomach -10" Hips -8" Bottom -4" Thighs -4" Legs -3" " were claims that people could lose precise amounts of weight within a stated period and that people could lose weight or fat from specific parts of their body, and that they therefore breached CAP Code rule 13.9.

On these points, the ad breached CAP Code rules 13.8, 13.9 and 13.10 (Weight control and slimming).

10. Upheld

We considered that the claim that the product could "RAPIDLY SPEED METABOLISM" implied that the product could restore, correct or modify a physiological function by pharmacological or metabolic action and was, therefore, medicinal. We noted such claims for foods or drinks were prohibited by law and concluded that the ad breached the Code.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code rule 1.10 (Legality).

11. Upheld

We noted the ad included claims that the product could "RAPIDLY REDUCE CHOLESTEROL" and that, "By normalizing blood sugar it also helps to prevent the onset of diabetes and hypoglycaemia". We considered those claims implied that the product could treat or prevent diabetes and high cholesterol, which we considered to be serious medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. We considered the claims could therefore discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code rule 12.2 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

12. Upheld

We noted that efficacy claims for products such as the advertiser's milk thistle product were prohibited unless the product had been granted a Traditional Herb Registration. We noted the advertiser had not provided evidence that the product had been granted a Traditional Herb Registration and therefore concluded the ad breached the Code.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code rule 1.10 (Legality).


Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We referred the matter to CAP's Compliance team. We told Wellform to remove from their advertising all claims for which they did not hold substantiation. We told them they should not state that the Konjac Fat Blaster did not have side effects and could be used by anyone. We told them not to make claims which could discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. We told them they should not make claims that stated or implied that people could eat as much as they liked and still lose weight, that people could lose precise amounts of weight within a stated period, or that people could lose weight or fat from specific parts of their body. We also told them not to make claims that were not compatible with good medical and nutritional practice. We told them they should not make implied medicinal claims, and that they should not make efficacy claims for products that had not been granted a Traditional Herb Registration.

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2 Responses to Konjac Fat Blaster – Scam

  1. Adam Stark 15 June, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    It looks like the marketing claims on this product were egregious and misleading. That being said, the opening statement of the article “there is simply no proof that this product has any efficacy at all” is equally misleading, as it overlooks some seemingly legitimate published, peer-reviewed clinical trials on the active ingredient. Two that were quickly searched for and found on PubMed (The U.S. National Institutes of Health’s online medical database) are :

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6096282
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17618964

    There are a few more.

    Let’s assess nutritional medicine fairly — both in support of and in refutation of its (presumed) efficacy. Just because some unscrupulous marketers come out with overblown claims doesn’t mean that there isn’t at least some legitimate science behind the product.

    Then again, I notice that this whole blog post revolves around regulatory issues. After the (unsubstantiated) opening statement, there really seems to be no actual analysis of clinical efficacy.

  2. Harris 16 June, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    @Adam
    Fair comment, except that the studies used 1-g dose and 3-g doses daily, respectfully. Compare that with the very low dose in Konjac Fat Blaster, hence the comment that no studies were done with that particular low dose – the effect may not be linear according to dose.

    In a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of glucomannan on plasma lipid and glucose concentrations, body weight, and blood pressure published in 2008 (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/4/1167.long), the authors concluded that “glucomannan is commonly touted in the United States as an effective over-the-counter weight-loss supplement. In studies lasting a mean of 5.2 wk, our meta-analysis found that there was a statistically significant but small reduction in weight of 0.79 kg (≈1%) with glucomannan. While studied over a slightly longer period of time, orlistat (Alli) the only over-the-counter weight-loss treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has been shown to decrease body weight by ≈5% in the first 16 wk of treatment. Therefore, based on current data, glucommanan’s effect on weight could be described as mild, as could its effects on FBG (fasting blood glucose)”.

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